25 August 2016
A beautiful, nostalgic, moving memoir by Keggie Carew
Tom Carew is in his eighties and he has dementia. As his memory fails, his daughter Keggie embarks on an increasingly ardent quest to prevent the story of his astonishing life slipping away too. For Tom, born in Dublin in 1919, served in the maverick Jedburgh unit of the Special Operations Unit (SOE) in the Second World War and was once called ‘Lawrence of Burma’ by The Times of India and – apparently knowing no fear – ‘the Mad Irishman’.
Childhood memories of growing up with her charming, mischievous and inventive three times-wed father are seamlessly interpersed with touching scenes of modern life with a relative with dementia, all set against stories of Tom’s extraordinary wartime experiences. He led Resistance fighters in the brutally Nazi-occupied France, and fought a guerilla war against the Japanese in the jungles of Burma where, incidentally, he discovered a love of the Burmese people and a lifelong penchant for wearing sarongs (even, hilariously, on a boating holiday with his children on the Norfolk Broads).
With information gathered from fellow ‘Jeds’ at a gloriously entertaining weekend reunion Keggie takes her father to in Peterborough (and nearby Milton Hall, where the Jeds trained for all kinds of perilous – and madcap – situations), her trail takes in SOE records in The National Archives, films from the Imperial War Museums and diaries, letters and audio tape recordings. Through these Keggie discovers a new side to the unorthodox man she knew as Dad, as well as to her family and, indeed, her own life.
Beautiful, nostalgic, moving, shocking, swashbuckling and simply unputdownable, this is the memoir we all want to write. Really, this is a story of journeys, love, loss, memory and family, bravery and Boy’s Own daring; the stuff of legends and surely what our family history endeavours are all about.
ISBN: 9781784740764. RRP £16.99, hardback. Chatto & Windus.